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Ty Herndon has come a long way down the road for advocacy since he first launched the Concert for Love and Acceptance in 2015 — in fact, maybe too far, as he laughingly tells Taste of Country.
“‘Be careful what you wish for’ is the old saying,” Herndon says by phone as he prepares to launch the 2018 Concert for Love and Acceptance. Herndon has become such a prominent voice for the LGBTQ community since he came out in 2014 that he’s actually had to make a conscious decision to focus more on making music recently.
“This last year I had to start turning some stuff down, because I had to remember that I also have a legacy in country music,” he admits. “I did 114 dates last year, so I’m out there doing what I love to do, which is singing. But anytime I can add music into changing heart and minds — which is kinda the thing I do now; I do some speaking at high schools and colleges and stuff, but I would incorporate music and just talk about where I was in my life during the time that I recorded the song, and maybe who was in my life at the time. The secrets that I had to keep that almost killed me. And so my whole thing about music today is just making sure that kids out there are not taking their lives over being authentically who they are. It’s really become a part of my music and my life.”
Herndon admits he himself had a lot to learn about the challenges the LGBTQ community faces back when he began the event. His mission from the start has been to reduce the number of youth, particularly in the more conservative regions of the South, who take their own lives every year because they have been ostracized from their families or churches over their sexual identity.
“A lot of these kids that are coming out to their parents today are seeing a lot more support, simply because of being educated,” Herndon observes. “That’s why I love working with HRC [Human Rights Campaign] and GLAAD, just getting to put things out there and let people know that you can save a life.”
That’s always been the underlying motive for the annual performance.
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